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Theo Epstein: World's Greatest Leader - Fortune

March 24, 2017

[Photo: from USA Today video]


Big surprise - a sports executive as Fortune's World’s Greatest Leader? And, for G_d’s sake, did Theo Epstein really beat out the Head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis (#3)? Yes, but before we get to that, let's address a couple of house-keeping matters.


This being a financial news site, here are the 4 individuals from the financial world who landed on the list:

  • Janet Yellen, Chair of the Federal Reserve (#17)
  • Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chair of the State Bank of India (#26)
  • Jamie Dimon, Chair and CEO of JPMorgan Chase (#39)
  • Yuri Milner, Founder of DST Global – a Russian-based investment firm (#40)


Now, for politics. No, Donald Trump did not make the Fortune’s top 50 list, but H.R. McMaster - his U.S. National Security Adviser - did (#7); Meanwhile U.S. Senator John McCain placed #9.


Other surprising names on the list:   

  • Samantha Bee, TV host and executive producer, was #19.
  • Lebron James, Cleveland Cavalier savior, was #11.
  • Melinda Gates, the Co-Chair of the Gates Foundation, was #4.


NOW FOR THEO EPSTEIN - WHY HE & THE CUBS ARE FORTUNE’S MVP’S?    Fortune's reasoning for its surprising selection can be explained, in part, by reference to a book written by Sports Illustrated writer Tom Verducci - The Cubs Way. Mr. Verducci illustrates the singular leadership style of Theo Epstein who, in his 9 season with the Boston Red Sox, used his ‘Moneyball’, quant-oriented expertise to deliver 6 playoff appearances and 2 World Series titles. Needless to say, that ended the then-hapless Boston Red Sox tradition of losing.


In 2012, Theo Epstein moved to Chicago to lead the Cubs to the 'promised land'. Prior to its winning the World Series in 2016, the Cubbies had not won the championship since 1908 - a span of 108 years. So, while this new mission was similar to his previous one with the Boston Red Sox, Epstein understood that he must evolve into more of a leader - one who could integrate his quant-styled expertise with a deeper understanding into important human qualities - character, discipline and chemistry. Those qualities, Epstein realized, would be necessary to turn skilled athletes into leaders in this baseball organization. 


At the outset, Epstein introduced his 5-year rebuilding plan to nearly everone in the Cubs organization. After 3 days going over on-field strategies, Epstein spent an entire day devoted to character. The Cubs, he insisted, would acquire only players with outstanding makeup - based on character, discipline and chemistry. 


To Epstein, character didn't just matter, it was essential to his blueprint for the Cubs to win the World Series. This led the Cubs to acquire the 4 pillars of the rebuild. First baseman Anthony Rizzo, future MVP Kris Bryant, outfielder Kyle Schwarber, and shortstop Addison Russell were all acquired because the Cubs valued their character, not just their skill.


From there, Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs evolved, relying on a mosaic of hearts, minds, attitudes and athletic ability to become the World Series champions in 2016. With his personal and team-wide evolution, Theo Epstein's stature rose to the current level - as Fortune’s World’s Greatest Leader.


[Click the link below for the full article.]